Micromanufacturing and traditional precision manufacturing procedures adopt similar techniques and equipment. However, they have different objectives.
While precision manufacturing aims to make parts with size-to-tolerance ratios greater than 1000, micromanufacturing attempts to create components with sizes ranging from 1 to 100 micrometers in order to meet functional goals satisfactorily.
Thanks to micromanufacturing and the fulfillment of Gordon Moore’s law, your smartphone now has more computing power than NASA’s Apollo astronauts had in the 1960s. The small computers we carry today are all products of incredible achievements chalked over the course of the computing age.
While engineers fear that Moore’s Law (the doubling of integrated circuit transistors every two years) will break down in the future due to the nature of electrons, electronic devices continue to shrink further with each passing year. Beyond the computer industry, aerospace companies and medical supply manufacturers are benefiting from the use of smaller and high precision components.
The different types of micromanufacturing processes include micro-welding, micromachining, micro-molding, and cold forming.
This type of micromanufacturing process doesn’t only permit the production of microscopic parts — it also offers a high level of quality for large components with obstacles that can’t be corrected by traditional molding techniques.
Molding smaller parts isn’t the only pressing challenge that arises from micromanufacturing; mass-producing quality components while maintaining manufacturing standards and precision also counts. Extreme precision in the range of 0.1 mm to 0.2 mm can only be realized through modern micro-molding techniques.
Mold production can become an expensive process requiring restoration and repair to cut down costs. Welding is critical in reducing the costs of making new parts or new mold components. Modern micro-welding practices evolved from conventional gas tungsten arc welding.
Previously known as TIG welding, the procedure involves the use of an electric burst to generate heat at the point of an arc gap. This point produces a molten pool for a filler rod to be applied. However, micro-welding uses low amperage normally below 10. By using a high-powered microscope, micro welders can achieve stunning precision.
Like micro-molding and micro-welding, micro-machining comes with its own benefits. The machining of complicated geometries down to small sizes offers several advantages when compared to traditional methods.
Although techniques may vary, micromachining aims to machine below or within the size of one micron. This is achieved by using special CNC equipment to help manufacturers overcome limitations.
Manufacturing companies often use micromachining to make parts like plastics and metals as it offers advantages similar to micro molding. Miniature components with high precision are vital for making life-saving medical products. The aerospace industry relies on precise instruments to improve aviation.
It’s also believed that micro manufacturing procedures can derive benefits from both cold forming and cold forging techniques, as these do not expose metals to intense stress as traditional methods do.
All in all, microfabrication is a welcome innovation that will continue to push manufacturing companies to make better products for consumers.